April/May 2014

by Aaron Smith

Fresh Talent: Strangely Arousing

by Aaron Smith

Fresh Talent: Strangely Arousing

Strangely Arousing are a five-piece reggae/ska act hailing, originally, from Rotorua. With three of them now studying jazz at NZSM in Albany, the band recently made the jump to Auckland. Still Rotorua boys at heart, they miss the little things.
“We can’’t go to the supermarket in a towel or walk down the street in bare feet anymore!”” laughs trumpeter Forrest Thorp.

I’’m on Skype between Palmy and Auckland, with Forrest, Lukas Wharekura (vocals, guitar), and Liam Rolfe (trombone, bvs). Bassist Shaun Loper and drummer Oliver Prendergast are busy elsewhere.

Considering their young age, and the fact they have already amassed a small fortune of accolades, including winning recording time through Play It Strange and the Smokefree Pasifika Beats, these boys are heading onwards and upwards.

Part of the Pasifika Beats’ prize was a place at Raggamuffin, getting to share the stage with the likes of Damien Marley (who they tell me they met personally at the after party), and there was also the recording of their track Kupenga at York Street Studios. Heady opportunities.

“They made it really easy, we just came in and played our parts… made it a really smooth experience”,” remembers Lukas about the York Street recording.
“We were all mates in high school and jumped into a band together. We started by playing a metal rendition of The Pink Panther, and it all basically rolled on from there,” Forrest relates.

They’ve still got a lot of praise for mentors and former music teachers, Ryan McIntyre and Adam Hague, who were there with them throughout the competitions, giving the criticism needed to push them to be their best. Indeed they rate them as one of the major supportive influences on their musical careers and successes so far.

Confidently brassy and punchy, Kupenga hit over 10,000 YouTube views in less than two months and featured on Kiwi Hit Disc #167. The band cites performing on NZ’’s Got Talent a highlight of their career so far – next to playing a cover of Gangnam Style at a school talent quest and getting flash mobbed by 40 people onstage. Lucas loved it.

“It was an awesome response from a crowd not built for original music… We felt the pressure and thought we played really well, we really stood up and nailed it!””

According to Rolfe, they actively like to try something different every time with their songwriting. With musical influences ranging from metal to jazz it’’s little surprise they have accomplished so much in such a short space of time. Where to from here for Strangely Arousing? Lukas knows.

“Living together, we’’re around each other 24/7, so it’’s playing together all the time and getting tight as. The best part about having played some of the gigs we have is now we’re not just talking it, now we can actually back it up when we say we can play.””